Operating Systems

Erle-Brain uses the Linux kernel, an open source Unix-like computer operating system kernel.

The Linux kernel is a widely used operating system kernel world-wide; the Linux operating system is based on it and deployed on both traditional computer systems, usually in the form of Linux distributions, and on embedded devices such as routers. The Android operating system for tablet computers and smartphones is also based on the Linux kernel.

The Linux kernel was initially conceived and created in 1991 by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds for his personal computer and with no cross-platform intentions, but has since expanded to support a huge array of computer architectures, more than any other operating system or kernel. Linux rapidly attracted developers and users who adapted code from other free software projects for use with the new operating system.

The Linux kernel API, the application programming interface (API) through which user programs interact with the kernel, is meant to be very stable and to not break userspace programs (some programs, such as those with GUIs, rely on other APIs as well). As part of the kernel's functionality, device drivers control the hardware; "mainlined" device drivers are also meant to be very stable. However, the interface between the kernel and loadable kernel modules (LKMs), unlike in many other kernels and operating systems, is not meant to be very stable by design.


Besides the Linux kernel, there're several choices for the file system. Below we describe some of them:

File Systems


Debian is the name for a Linux distribution that is composed primarily of free and open-source software, most of which is under the GNU General Public License, and packaged by a group of individuals known as the Debian project.

As one of the earliest Linux distributions, it was envisioned that Debian was to be developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. This vision drew the attention and support of the Free Software Foundation, which sponsored the project for the first part of its life.

A ready-to-fly image for Erle-brain with Debian is available here.


Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux operating system. It is based on free software and named after the Southern African philosophy of ubuntu (literally, "human-ness"), which often is translated as "humanity towards others" or "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity".

Development of Ubuntu is led by UK-based Canonical Ltd., a company owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical generates revenue through the sale of technical support and other services related to Ubuntu. The Ubuntu project is publicly committed to the principles of open source development; people are encouraged to use free software, study how it works, improve upon it, and distribute it.


The Ångström distribution is a Linux distribution for a variety of embedded devices. The distribution is the result of a unification of developers from the OpenZaurus, OpenEmbedded, and OpenSIMpad projects.

Amongst other options the user interface in one of the reference builds achieveable with BitBake is the GPE Palmtop Environment. Ångström uses opkg for package management.


Android is a mobile operating system (OS) based on the Linux kernel and currently developed by Google. It's user interface-oriented, Android is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, with specialized user interfaces for televisions (Android TV), cars (Android Auto), and wrist watches (Android Wear). The OS uses touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, and a virtual keyboard. Despite being primarily designed for touchscreen input, it also has been used in game consoles, digital cameras, regular PCs (e.g. the HP Slate 21) and other electronics.

How about robotics ;)?

Do you need an specific distribution or file system?. Let us know and we'll work together with you to bring it.

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